GWP Technical Committee. Policy Brief 7.
Taking an integrated approach to water development and management can help countries attract financing for infrastructure, get the most benefit from those investments, and ensure their sustainability. It may also reduce the need for additional infrastructure by improving water efficiency. But the popular perception of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has focused on its management aspects and overlooked its application to water resources development. IWRM is an approach that considers both ‘hard’ (infrastructure) and ‘soft’ (institutional) investments together. Neither hard nor soft is effective alone. Too great a focus on the hard investments can result in infrastructure that cannot be maintained or managed in a way that contributes optimally to economic growth and poverty alleviation. Too great a focus on soft investments can leave populations without essential services or protection from climate variability.